5 Best Ways to Use Alaska Airlines Miles

Routes from the U.S. to Hawaii, Europe and South America are the best sweet spots under the new award charts.
Peter Rothbart
By Peter Rothbart 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Though Alaska Airlines is based out of the West Coast and Alaska, the Mileage Plan program deserves the attention of frequent flyers nationwide. Thanks to its roster of airline partners, you can use Mileage Plan miles to fly to more than 1,000 destinations worldwide. Even better, the program offers advantageous routing rules and competitive award pricing you can leverage for added value.

Alaska updated the Mileage Plan program in 2024, providing expanded award availability and more consistent partner award pricing. Read on to learn about booking Mileage Plan awards and see our suggestions for getting the most out of your miles.

Basics of Mileage Plan awards

You can use Mileage Plan miles to book award flights on Alaska, as well as 13 Oneworld alliance partners (like American Airlines and British Airways) and 11 other global partners (including Singapore Airlines and Icelandair). The cost of award flights used to vary by partner, but as of March 2024, awards are priced the same for all partners based on the region and distance traveled.

Award rates start as low as 4,500 miles one-way for the shortest flights in economy, increasing the farther you fly. Rates for premium economy, business class and first class awards are progressively higher for a given flight distance.

You can compare award prices across all regions, flight distances and cabins on Alaska’s 2024 partner award charts. Keep in mind the charts show the starting rate for awards based on saver level availability; rates for a given itinerary may be higher than what’s listed if saver awards aren't available.

Mileage Plan has several features that make miles more valuable and easier to use. You can add a stopover to many award itineraries, making it possible to visit two destinations in one trip for the same cost. You can also change and cancel Mileage Plan awards with no penalty, which adds flexibility to your travel plans. However, Alaska imposes nonrefundable fees of $12.50 for partner award bookings and $15 for booking by phone.

With those details in mind, check out these sweet spots for redeeming Mileage Plan miles.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan sweet spots

1. Fly business class to South America and Europe

The updated Mileage Plan award chart spells the end of several former sweet spots, but business class award rates remain favorable on many routes. For example, many business class flights from the U.S. to Europe and South America now cost less than before (if you can find saver awards).

Business class awards between the U.S. and Europe start at 45,000 miles for flight distances between 1,501 and 3,500 miles.

Alaska’s partners fly several routes that fall within that range, such as Philadelphia-Dublin (on Aer Lingus), Boston-Madrid (on Iberia) or New York-London (on American Airlines and British Airways, though the latter involves hefty carrier-imposed charges). Flights between 3,501 and 5,000 miles cost 55,000 miles each way, which fits routes like Dallas-Paris, Seattle-Helsinki and Minneapolis-Frankfurt.

The new award chart also offers favorable rates for business class awards to South America on American and LATAM. For as few as 35,000 Mileage Plan miles, you can book business class itineraries covering from 2,101 to 4,000 miles, such as New York-Lima.

Starting from 50,000 miles each way, you can book business class awards between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, such as Dallas-São Paulo or Los Angeles-Santiago.

2. Fly to Hawaii and Mexico on Alaska Airlines

Alaska maintains a separate award chart for flights on its aircraft, and like its partner award charts, most itineraries are priced according to the distance flown.

However, award flights from the contiguous U.S. (including Alaska and Canada) to Alaska Airlines destinations in Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are priced independent of distance in economy and first class.

Under the new pricing, you could fly from Boston to Honolulu for as few as 15,000 miles or Anchorage to Nassau, Bahamas, for as few as 10,000 miles in economy.

Since these rates apply exclusively to flights on Alaska, they’re most useful to those who can transit easily through a West Coast hub like Seattle or San Francisco. Depending on your other options, however, you may find prices are good enough to justify flying out of your way.

3. Book inexpensive short-haul flights

Starting from 7,500 miles, you can book one-way partner economy awards covering distances up to 1,500 miles (1,400 miles in the Americas). That covers city pairs like Hong Kong-Seoul, London-Marrakech and Tel Aviv-Vienna. Those same flights are available in business class for 15,000 miles each way, presenting opportunities to try out premium cabins at relatively low prices.

Within the Americas, you’ll find an even lower partner award rate of 4,500 miles for flights covering distances up to 700 miles. That’s handy for booking short hops around the American Airlines domestic route network, like Phoenix to Salt Lake City, Charlotte to New Orleans or Miami to Kingston, Jamaica.

Finally, short-haul economy awards on Alaska flights cost 5,000 miles for distances up to 700 miles and 7,500 miles for distances up to 1,400 miles. From Alaska hubs like Seattle, Anchorage and Portland, you can reach dozens of destinations across the Western U.S., Alaska and Canada at those rates.

4. Add a stopover to an international trip

Mileage Plan’s favorable stopover policy remains intact after the recent program changes, allowing members to visit multiple destinations on eligible itineraries. You’re allowed a single stopover on each eligible one-way itinerary, so you could book a stopover in each direction when flying round-trip.

Stopovers are permitted at international airline partner hubs (like Tokyo for Japan Airlines or London for British Airways) and only when transiting between international regions.

For example, you could stop in Hong Kong (the hub for partner Cathay Pacific) on the way to Thailand, or in Madrid (the hub for partner Iberia) on the way back from Europe. However, you couldn’t add a stop in Singapore on the way from Jakarta to Bangkok since you’d be traveling within a single international region.

Alaska currently limits stopovers to awards booked with no more than one partner airline, but that’s set to change in late 2024, opening more possibilities to add a destination to your itinerary.

5. Book multicity awards on Alaska Airlines

Much like the stopovers on international partner awards described above, Mileage Plan lets you build stopovers into multicity awards booked solely on Alaska. Awards are priced according to the total distance flown across all flights on your itinerary, with saver awards topping out at 12,500 miles for itineraries covering more than 2,100 miles in the air.

Since Alaska’s hubs are all on the West Coast, that’s where you’ll find it easiest to book multicity itineraries. For example, you could book this trip from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco (for a week) and Seattle for 12,500 miles plus taxes:

That deal looks even better considering you’d pay the same number of miles for the one-way from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco alone:

You don’t have to end your multicity trip in an Alaska hub, and even though Mileage Plan’s routing rules limit backtracking, your stops don’t have to align. For example, here’s an award itinerary that starts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, stops for a week in Seattle and ends in Jackson, Wyoming, all for 12,500 miles.

You can book multicity awards on eligible itineraries across Alaska’s route network, including destinations in Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. That provides even more opportunities to book two trips in one.

How to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Before you can book these sweet spot awards, you’ll need to bank enough miles in your Mileage Plan account. You can earn Mileage Plan miles in a variety of ways, such as flying on Alaska and its partners, booking additional travel through Mileage Plan’s hotel and rental car partners and making purchases through the Mileage Plan shopping portal.

One reliable way to accumulate Mileage Plan miles is by using the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, which earns 3 miles per $1 on Alaska purchases, 2 miles per $1 on gas, EV charging, cable, streaming services and local transit, and 1 mile per $1 elsewhere.

Small-business owners may prefer the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card, which comes with similar benefits (though not the same welcome bonus offer).

Here's a closer look at Alaska's credit cards.

How the cards compare
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Annual fee


$70 for the company and $25 per card.

Welcome offer

Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Get 50,000 bonus miles, $100 statement credit and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Earning rates

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, shipping and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

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